Israel Electric Corporation to use polluting generators to alleviate summer consumption.
By Zafrir Rinat

The government must give due weight to reducing air pollution as part of its emergency plan to deal with the summer’s expected power shortage, green groups and the Environmental Protection Ministry say.

In particular, the ministry wants time limits set on the operation of the large generators that are slated to serve the Israel Electric Corporation as back-up sources of electricity, since they run on “dirty” fuel. It also wants these generators located far from residential areas.

The expected power shortage over the summer, when demand traditionally peaks, stems from both the ongoing disruption in the supply of natural gas from Egypt and the delay in building a new power plant in the lower Galilee. Some power plants are using diesel fuel as a substitute for natural gas, but diesel is a less efficient fuel. Moreover, not all plants can run on diesel.

The cabinet is soon slated to discuss the emergency power generation plan prepared by the Energy and Water Resources Ministry. The plan, based on recommendations by an interministerial committee, advocates using a variety of alternate power sources, all of which run on relatively dirty fuels.

In particular, it proposes making use of diesel-powered generators owned by government agencies or industrial firms. It also proposes allowing some regular power plants, including the one in Haifa and the Reading plant in Tel Aviv, to run on fuel oil, which would require the Environmental Protection Ministry to lower its air pollution standards.

The ministry, which participated in the interministerial committee’s work, is seeking to have limits placed on the use of generators, which emit more pollution than most other power sources do and could thus violate air quality standards in their vicinity.

Specifically, it is demanding that generators located within 500 meters of a residential area, tourist attraction, vacation destination or public building be allowed to run for no more than 100 hours per year. Generators located at distances greater than 500 meters could run for 300 hours per year, it proposes.

In addition, it wants authorization to require the owner to submit an environmental impact statement if it fears a given generator will cause severe pollution.

Finally, the ministry and green groups are demanding that the quota for solar power generation be expanded immediately, to reduce the amount of power that will have to be generated with dirty fuels. The greens – led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Life & Environment, and the Israel Energy Forum – argue that new rooftop generators capable of producing an additional 70 megawatts of electricity could be approved relatively quickly if the government raised its maximum quota for solar power production.

Just two months ago, they noted, the Electricity Authority approved raising the solar power quota by 35 megawatts, and within a very short time, enough applications had been submitted to exhaust the entire quota.

Green groups protest government energy policy – Jerusalem Post
By SHARON UDASIN 05/07/2012 09:34

Protesters gather at Prime Minister’s Office to demand an increased focus on solar energy to prevent anticipated electricity blackouts.

Green groups gathered at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday to protest against what they view as a lack of focus on solar energy, which they say should be promoted as an environment-friendly solution to anticipated electricity shortages.

“(Energy and Water Minister Uzi) Landau is polluting Israel,” protesters chanted, demanding that he increase solar production quotas by bringing forth a proposal for government approval.

“We’ve gotten to the point where there won’t be enough electricity,” said one protester from the Labor party, adding that “it is possible to produce green energy.”

Eitan Parness of the Renewable Energy Association led the crowd in chanting: “black electricity – you are forbidden to choose.”

Last Wednesday, eight environmental organizations appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asking that he promote an increase in the quota for photovoltaic rooftop panels, arguing that allowing more solar roof installations would be a simple and clean way of helping bridge the gaps that might occur this summer.

“Not taking advantage of available solar energy, which is sustainable and green, is a scandal,” a statement from Society for the Protection of Nature said.

Jon Cohen, CEO of Arava Power Company, agreed that increasing the quota would be beneficial.

“Greenlighting the immediate deployment of additional rooftop systems will supply the grid tens of megawatts of clean electricity at peak hours by this summer,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “This, in combination with the hundreds of megawatts ground mounted systems will supply by next summer, and hundreds more the following summer, will have a major impact on peak hour coverage, as well as making our air healthier to breathe.”

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan had sent a letter to Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau asking him to increase solar production quotas, which he said would be instrumental in dealing with energy shortages.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the matter, while the Energy and Water Ministry said that it received the request to incorporate solar quotas into the proposal and it will examine the matter. staff contributed to this report.